Angry Robot

Halo 3 Saved Films and Gaming Spectatorship

This is nothing new. Years ago I got a great kick out of watching saved films of Myth, an earlier Bungie game. Driver was a series with quite an elaborate saved film component; I’m sure there are many more examples. It’s rumoured that Bungie wanted it in Halo 2, but it was one of many dropped features in the rush to actually ship the game. But I like to keep an eye on developments in this area because I believe spectatorship in gaming is a key issue, and when good solutions for it are developed, gaming’s role in the larger culture will expand massively.

Bungie’s goal in this case (at least as far as I can tell from the video) is a mode of spectatorship for players: an easy way to review and share a recently-played game, as well as a way of developing one’s game, just as pro athletes review video of their games – and those of their opponents. So this is not something that attempts to make games watchable to non-gamers, which is the final frontier.

That being said, Bungie are masters of UI. The scope of their mastery is another potential article, but suffice it to say that if this feature is as well-implemented as is reasonable to expect, no other tool may be necessary to make the transition to mass-market spectatorship. If it performs as advertised, and any angle can be captured, then all the necessary footage to make a pretty kickass ‘film’ of a given match could be piped into an external editing app. I suppose the games could not be viewed live. But a case could be made that this is something people will want to watch, and ‘live’ technologies would follow from there.

And just imagine the machinima possibilities.